Europe is in the midst of one of the gravest humanitarian crises’ of recent years. Thousands of refugees are entering Europe on a monthly basis, many of whom are coming from war torn countries further afield such as Syria. Currently Britain has only taken 216 refugees from Syria, leading to widespread criticism that the country should be doing more. This appears to have fallen on deaf ears though with David Cameron indicating a change in policy is not likely.
The first key distinction to make is that refugees are not the same as economic migrants. Refugees do not leave their country for economic purposes but move due to concerns about human rights and safety. Therefore although these issues are often intertwined, it is important to note the differences between a refugee and a migrant.
According to recent polls migration is now the biggest issue of concern to voters in the UK. The powerful anti-migration lobby in this country led by certain aspects of the right wing press has created quite a storm about migration in recent weeks with several misleading headlines. The refugee crisis appears to have got lost in this and the government appear scared about what the reaction would be should they take in more refugees.
Other countries in Europe are therefore bearing the brunt of this crisis. This is not fair or acceptable. A suitable agreement should have been reached across Europe that each country would take their fair share of refugees and there should be ongoing conversations on this issue. Local councils across the country have been stepping forward in recent days offering to take more refugees in an effort to put pressure on the government, but the reality is that it should not have reached this stage.
The government is right to state that taking in more and more refugees on a permanent basis is not the long term solution. In the long term there needs to be diplomatic and political solutions in the countries the refugees are fleeing from. However this is a long term process and in the short term these refugees need to be housed and looked after, hence the need for Britain to take more refugees.
The British government does have a duty to do more. These refugees are coming from horrific situations where they are fleeing for their lives. All countries have a responsibility to step up and help out. This includes Britain. Our response has been pitiful and needs to change. It is time for our government to lead.
Article by Mike Hough
Photograph – Daily Mail